In the last decades of the thirteenth century the British Isles appeared to be on the point of unified rule, dominated by the lordship, law and language of the English. However by 1400 Britain and Ireland were divided between the warring kings of England and Scotland, and peoples still starkly defined by race and nation. Why did the apparent trends towards a single royal ruler, a single elite and a common Anglicised world stop so abruptly after 1300? And what did the resulting pattern of distinct nations and extensive borderlands contribute to the longer-term history of the British Isles?
In this innovative analysis of a critical period in the history of the British Isles, Michael Brown addresses these fundamental questions and shows how the national identities underlying the British state today are a continuous legacy of these years. Using a chronological structure to guide the reader through the key periods of the era, this book also identifies and analyses the following dominant themes throughout:
- the changing nature of kingship and sovereignty and their links to wars of conquest
- developing ideas of community and identity
- key shifts in the nature of aristocratic societies across the isles
- the European context, particularly the roots and course of the Hundred Years War
This is essential reading for undergraduates studying the history of late Medieval Britain or Europe, but will also be of great interest for anyone who wishes to understand the continuing legacy of the late medieval period in Britain.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Warlords and Sovereign Lords 1. Edward the Conqueror 2. Robert Bruce 3. Sovereignty and War 4. Rulers and Realms 5. Peoples, Crises and Conflicts 6. Elites and Identities 7. Borderlands: Lords and Regions 8. Hundred Years Wars: The European Context 9. Politics and Power in the British Isles (c.1360-1415) 10. Four Lands: The British Isles in the Early Fifteenth Century. Conclusions Nations and Unions
Michael Brown is Reader in Scottish History at the University of St Andrews. He has previously worked at the University of Aberystwyth, University College Dublin and the University of Aberdeen. Previous books include James I (1994), The Black Douglases (1998), The Wars of Scotland 1214-1371 (2004) and Bannockburn: The Scottish War and the British Isles 1307-1323 (2008).
'This is a wide-ranging text drawing together, via a scholarly interdisciplinary apparatus, a wealth of primary and secondary sources...deriving from the Continent, Britain, and Ireland. Using chronicles, state documents, parliamentary records, and diplomatic correspondence, Brown provides a comprehensive and in-depth analysis of the volatile and often turbulent nature of sovereignty...Disunited Kingdoms is a significant addition to the promising historiography encompassing late medieval and early modern European, British and Irish socio-political affairs.'- Katherine Basanti, University of Aberdeen